Open letter in Navalny’s defence: ‘Stop the grave psychological and physical torture’

25 March 2021

More than 150 journalists, directors, lawyers, human rights activists, scholars, and public figures have signed an open letter to FSIN [Federal Penitentiary Service] Director Aleksandr Kalashnikov, General Prosecutor Igor Krasnov, and High Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova demanding that lawyers be allowed to see Aleksei Navalny and that his status as a “flight risk” be lifted. We are publishing the text of the letter.

Source: MBKh News

To Russian FSIN Director
Aleksandr Petrovich Kalashnikov

To Russian Prosecutor General
Igor Viktorovich Krasnov

To Russian High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tatyana Nikolaevna Moskalkova

We, citizens of Russia, hereby appeal to you on an urgent matter that cannot suffer delay. On 24 March, Aleksei Navalny’s lawyers Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev were informed that after an entire day of waiting at the checkpoint to IK [Penal Colony]-2 in Pokrov, they were not being allowed to meet with defendant Aleksei Anatolievich Navalny because the working day at the colony was over. The night before, a lawyer had been to see Aleksei Navalny and had reported that his state of health had deteriorated, his leg was being amputated, and the pain was not abating. As we know, last summer Aleksei Navalny was poisoned and lay in a coma for 18 days. In connection with the poisoning, many functions of his organism’s vital functions, including his neurological status, were compromised. At the time of Navalny’s return to Russia, the rehabilitation of his health was not complete. Obviously, due to the fact that he is in custody, he is receiving no rehabilitation or serious medication assistance whatsoever. At the present time, in view of the information received, we have serious grounds for concern for his health and life.

We are also disturbed by and demand your heightened attention to the situation concerning the decision to deem Aleksei Navalny a “flight risk.” According to him, colony employees “check” to see whether he has escaped by waking him every hour throughout the night. A video camera has been installed in his barracks, so there is no need to wake him every hour, which deprives him of his right to sleep. According to law, every prisoner in custody must be allowed eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. This practice at IK-2 fundamentally not only violates this legal right of the prisoner but constitutes psychological torture that is leading to a deterioration in his health and is posing a threat to his life.

We ask that you study the documents used as grounds for deeming Aleksei Navalny a “flight risk” and their correspondence and validity with respect to him specifically and to immediately lift this status from Aleksei Navalny, thereby ending the grave psychological and physical torture.

Meanwhile, on 26 February 2021, in an interview with TASS, you, Aleksandr Petrovich, stated that “there is no threat to Aleksei Navalny’s safety and health in the colony.” That is, you, like General Prosecutor Igor Krasnov, are guarantors of Aleksei Navalny’s safety, health, and life.

We ask and demand that you take all measures to create for Aleksei Navalny normal conditions of confinement at the colony that do not threaten his life and health and also to ensure legal and timely access to him for his lawyers. Under Russian law, lawyers have the right to unimpeded visits with their defendants. On what grounds are Navalny’s lawyers being forced to wait for four or five hours to meet with their defendant?

On what grounds are they not being allowed access to their defendant, whose health raises concern?

We ask that High Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Nikolaevna Moskalkova visit Aleksei Navalny at the colony and see with her own eyes the conditions in which he is being held and the state of his health.

For a list of signatories in Russian, see here.

Translated by Marian Schwartz

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